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Idle Science

Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis 449

Posted by samzenpus
from the born-to-run-off-the-road dept.
Serenissima writes "Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by UC Irvine neuroscientists. People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it — and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant. 'These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away,' said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex."

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Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis

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  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:12PM (#29912745)
    She gets it from her mother.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:56PM (#29913395) Journal

      She gets it from her mother.

      But I bet you taught her to drive.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        She gets it from her mother.

        But I bet you taught her to drive.

        You can't teach stupid.

      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @03:19PM (#29914689)
        Lighten up, Francis. It was a joke. She's actually a very good driver.
        (her mother, OTOH)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:12PM (#29912755)
    "People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test" You mean the double-X chromosome?
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:20PM (#29912891) Homepage Journal
      ""People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test" You mean the double-X chromosome?"

      Yep, and it is exacerbated by the adjacent gene that makes them yammer incessantly on a cell phone while driving the kids around in a huge SUV.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by b96miata (620163)
      The fact that this isn't (Score: 5, Funny) is proof that not only are there women on /., they have mod points.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HidingMyName (669183)

      "People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test" You mean the double-X chromosome?

      Although I'm a man, I'd have to admit I've seen some pretty bad driving from people with a Y chromosome too. In fact, very smart people can be very bad drivers (e.g. von Neumann's corner [anecdotage.com] was named after a notoriously bad driver, John von Neumann [wikipedia.org] who you might have heard about).

    • Re:Chromosomes? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infOPENBSDamous.net minus bsd> on Thursday October 29, 2009 @05:00PM (#29916327) Homepage

      You mean the double-X chromosome?

      A lot of comments (and tags) to that effect on this story.

      Remember that story about sexism in the F/OSS world a few weeks back? [slashdot.org] Remember how many people denied that such a thing could exist? Here's your proof.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        So what? How many men do you see driving minivans or SUVs and constantly turned around screaming at kids in the back instead of paying attention to the road ahead? This isn't sexism, it's a simple fact. I'm sure if you did a survey you'd also find that women talk on the phone in their car a lot more than men too. And how many men apply make-up in their cars while driving? Zero?

        There's nothing sexist about noting that people of different sexes act differently. How many women drive crotch rockets at ins

        • by ajlisows (768780)

          I see plenty of dudes texting while driving and what not. My last near death experience came on a slippery day when everyone in front of me was putting on their breaks. I looked in my rear view mirror and the guy behind me was looking down and had both of his hands up in the air and was clapping and bouncing up and down as if excited about music/possibly a sporting event. I had to jam onto the shoulder while he barreled into the guy that was in front of me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      OK, so I need to remind everyone that males have more accidents than females? Greater injury rates? More traffic violation fines? Higher drink driving rates? (Even after controlling for greater time on the roads).

      No, I probably don't because the fact that men are (on average) worse drivers than females on pretty much every measure is well known. Judging by the sexism of a lot of these posts (above and below), this really pisses some people off.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PachmanP (881352)

        OK, so I need to remind everyone that males have more accidents than females? Greater injury rates? More traffic violation fines? Higher drink driving rates? (Even after controlling for greater time on the roads).

        No, I probably don't because the fact that men are (on average) worse drivers than females on pretty much every measure is well known. Judging by the sexism of a lot of these posts (above and below), this really pisses some people off.

        Men drive dangerously. Probably Y/testosterone. Women just can't drive.

  • by domulys (1431537) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:14PM (#29912773)
    Is the "particular gene" a second X chromosome?

    I kid, I kid!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)

      I was in the car once with my girlfriend (driving) and we got stuck behind a slow driver, swerving all over the place. In our frustration we engaged in some stereotyping. "Probably old" I said. "And asian, she replied". When we were finally able to get around this person, I look over. "Sure enough, an old asian lady." My GF says "Yep, that's two strikes against her" At which point I say "No, that's three."

      I was glad she was driving and had only one hand to hit me with.

  • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:15PM (#29912789)

    Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

    So, perhaps this gene is more of a "disrespect for authority" gene?

    • This isn't about interacting with traffic and obeying laws, it's about maintaining control of the vehicle.

      The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.

      • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:30PM (#29913059)

        They are testing the memory of the track. Take one of the failures out and put him in a real car with genuine feedback, real handling, g-forces, etc... then see how he performs. Or simply change the track every time its driven.

        A good driver by their standards will know the turn is coming and compensate before they see it.

        A good driver by my standards will know how to control their vehicle when presented with an unexpected turn or a kid on a bike shooting out between parked cars.

        Essentially they created a test to see the effect of this gene on practiced behaviors... but it didn't test driving at all. Few accidents are the result of a driver forgetting how to drive, they are the result of a driver not knowing how to really drive in the first place (ie how to respond to the unexpected, or letting themselves be distracted and/or complacent).

        They already knew this gene effected memory, all this test did is test memory by having them repeat the same course over and over again. Change the course regularly and the results may change, those with great memories may not be able to adapt to changes/suprises.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by chebucto (992517) *

          I've always thought defensive driving (the ability to anticipate potentially dangerous situations and react in such a way as to mitigate or eliminate the danger) was the hallmark of good driving. The ability to react to surprise is also a trait of good drivers, I grant, but, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

          • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:57PM (#29913419)

            Sure... but memorizing your route home from work does nothing to make you a good driver.

            • by tool462 (677306) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:36PM (#29914047)

              And based on my own experience as a driver and a witness of others' driving, the level of comfort memorization encourages may be one of the more dangerous parts of driving.

              You get into a habit of thinking things like:
              There are never any cars around this corner
              I never see kids on this street
              Everybody drives 40mph on this street (posted speed of 25mph)

              All my closest calls as a driver have happened when you get in autopilot mode when driving in familiar streets.
              Contrast this to driving in a storm, in heavy traffic, in an unfamiliar area. Statistically I'm probably much more likely to get in an accident in the latter case, but I'm definitely paying much more attention and am being a much better driver.

              • Other thoughts... (Score:3, Insightful)

                by raftpeople (844215)
                "That loud thump has never turned out to be a pedestrian before"
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ajlisows (768780)

                I think you are spot on and I have long thought that myself. As I was taking the same route to work as I always did, one day I woke up out of a day dream and couldn't immediately figure out where I was. I was about 7 miles farther in the drive than I expected to be. That was a frightening thought because I realized how little attention I must have been paying to the road and the cars around me.

                Since that time, I've changed how I get to work. There are four different routes I can take, all of which are wi

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RichiH (749257)

            You will probably have more than one top in your curve. My personal optimum tends to be farther on the "arrives in a reasonable time" and "does not slow down others" side.

            Remember: The safest driver is the person who _never_ drives. But we can probably agree that this is not the local optimum most people would choose.

        • Absolutely. Driving simulators test real driving about as well as Call of Duty tests real marksmanship. It seem that a number of posters don't like your earlier comment about "bad" drivers often being better than "good" ones, but I think there's something to it. Many of the "good" drivers I know (my wife, for one), don't have the skills to react to dangerous situations, or the instincts to recover from a bad situation properly. Some of these only develop through practice, which is usually through "bad"
          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            Uhh no.

            A driving simulator uses a real wheel and real pedals with a full field of view of the road... Comparing that to Call of Duty is silly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by steelfood (895457)

          Few accidents are the result of a driver forgetting how to drive, they are the result of a driver not knowing how to really drive in the first place

          This is a false dichotomy. Accidents don't happen in a vacuum. They're usually comprised of several factors. Aggressive driving is one factor, but by itself, it's not sufficient to cause an accident. An unexpected event like a pedestrian runnig out is a second factor, but also not necessarily enough to cause an accident, even when said pedestrian runs out into an aggressive driver. And a driver who forgets how to drive, even momentarily, won't necessarily cause an accident, even with any one of the above fa

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:22PM (#29912921)

      Wow, defining the problem! I wonder if the researchers thought of such a novel concept?

      If only there was some sort of written description of the research, longer than a summary, that might shed light on if they independently came to the same conclusion that problem-definition might be worthwhile and, if so, what they defined as "better" and "worse"...

    • by furby076 (1461805)
      In the eyes of the law, and some others - getting a speeding ticket = being a bad driver. Though I challenge that since Nascar drivers are some of the best in the world - and drive the fastest too. Making a u-turn does not make you a bad driver. Making a u-turn into oncoming traffic and getting into a wreck makes you a bad driver. Insurance companies jsut want extra money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

        Insurance companies jsut want extra money.

        While that is quite likely the case, the insurance companies put a lot of effort and expense into the risk models, and it's unlikely that those models are far wrong. People with lots of tickets are statistically more likely to get into accidents. If they weren't, some insurance company would figure it out, and price their insurance lower to get more money, because, as you note, they want more money.

        The same logic holds for under 25 males, people with bad credit, etc. These are used to price your insurance

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by russotto (537200)

          While that is quite likely the case, the insurance companies put a lot of effort and expense into the risk models, and it's unlikely that those models are far wrong. People with lots of tickets are statistically more likely to get into accidents. If they weren't, some insurance company would figure it out, and price their insurance lower to get more money, because, as you note, they want more money.

          The insurance companies have models, but they're useful for assessing risk of a claim and not so much for driv

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

            That's naive. If an insurance company overprices risk, they'll lose the business. If they underprice the risk, they'll go broke. You're assuming that the folks building the risk models are stupid. That's not a high percentage assumption.

            If what you assert is true, auto insurance companies should be making huge amounts of money. Here is the financials from Progressive insurance, a prominent player. They netted about 7%.

            Hate them if you want. It's a competitive industry, and the numbers show that they

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cyberax (705495)

      "However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control."

      Do you realize that traffic rules were designed _specifically_ to minimize the impact of drivers' mistakes? And that if your 'best drivers' actually obeyed the laws, they'd have most probably avoided accidents. Even the ones caused by other drivers.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        There are many exceptions, though. For example, on most freeways speed limits are set based on safety of the rightmost lane. That's the only place they really matter, and only because of exiting and entering traffic. By the fourth lane over, there's no real harm in going faster as long as you aren't going more than about 10-15 MPH faster than the lane to your right (because doing so would mean they might not see you in time to avoid cutting you off while passing another vehicle). Yet they still enforce

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jhfry (829244)

        Traffic rules are designed to balance speed and safety for the majority of drivers... if they were designed "to minimize the impact of drivers' mistakes" you wouldn't be driving.

        I can show you many cases, where a person is not capable of driving safely even within the confines of the law. While I can show you an equal number of cases where the laws actually restrict a driver from achieving their optimal balance between speed and safety.

        I could also argue that some drivers become more complacent when they f

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by amplt1337 (707922)

        Not to mention that these "best drivers" may well be causing accidents by breaking the rules, encouraging unpredictability and spreading the results of their mistakes to others?

    • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow.wrought@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:36PM (#29913143) Homepage Journal
      Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

      If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit, and have no respect for when a U-Turn is allowed or appropriate, than you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)
      • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:44PM (#29913237)

        I hate to respond to this kind of stuff but I will.

        To make an analogy, imagine that traffic laws are like government mandated school curriculum, they are designed to be of the most benefit to the majority, they are by no means designed to define driving ability.

        There are people who shouldn't drive at all, and there are those who are capable of driving in much more extreme situations.

        Well I agree that disregarding traffic laws is not a 'good' thing, a persons ability to conform to them will never dictate to me their ability to drive.

        • roads aren't a career. They aren't a place where some should excel at the expense of others. Since you are sharing the road with others, if your behavior isn't predictable then it is bad behavior. Say for example a champion race-car driver decided that, to prove how great a driver he was, he would drive on the wrong side of a freeway. Would that not be "bad driving?" I don't care how good your skill at steering and breaking might be, driving is a social contract to act within an established set of norms. A surgeon can have extreme skill at controlling how deeply they cut, and otherwise have perfect hand-eye coordination, but if that perfection is applied to cutting out part of your liver when you're supposed to be having a brain tumor removed, then completely independent of any amount of hand-eye coordination and grace - that person is a bad surgeon.

          Same as a driver. If you aren't driving in a way that is predictable, and aren't driving the way you should be, then you are a bad driver. I don't care if you can do a controlled 360 on the road in front of your house - if you actually do it, then you are a bad driver. period.

        • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:08PM (#29913587)

          To make an analogy, imagine that traffic laws are like government mandated school curriculum, they are designed to be of the most benefit to the majority, they are by no means designed to define driving ability.

          Bad analogy.

          Traffic laws are like the code of conduct within a classroom. They prohibit someone from sitting in the back of the classroom and screaming at the top of their lungs while pelting the other students with rotten vegetables. The screaming/pelting kid may very well learn great like that, but they're a terrible distraction to everyone else and degrade the learning experience for the rest of the classroom.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by smidget2k4 (847334)
            I think that what we really need here is a car analogy so the /. crowd and understand.

            So it is like when a very poor driver is driving down the road...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by registrar (1220876)

          Indeed. There are plenty of poor drivers who obey the laws and are generally cautious. I'm one of them. I drive reasonably safely, though, because I know my limitations --- I don't have accidents, and I've had one near miss in years. And that makes me a better driver than my highly competent friends who have accidents because ...

          it doesn't matter what excuse they give: they have accidents and I don't, so whatever the reason, my premiums are lower and my family is safer.

      • by jhfry (829244)

        Oh... and actually I wasn't talking about myself... though I have my fair share of traffic violations. I don't think any person can adequately judge their own driving.

        I know someone is a good driver when I let go of the "oh shit" handle and stop pushing the imaginary break. I know they are a great driver when I can relax enough to sleep or read while they are driving.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Marcika (1003625)

        Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

        If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit, and have no respect for when a U-Turn is allowed or appropriate, than you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)

        No, you're confounding skills with ethics here. A hacker can both be skilled and be a blackhat; by the same token, a driver can be skilled and be an asshat. (Of course there is not necessarily always a positive correlation - cf. script-kiddies)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Xtravar (725372)

        Yes, his post was kind of asshatty. But here's another way to think about it. There are two modes of driving. In one mode, you are alert, aware of your surroundings, you know what lane changes and turns you can make without causing an accident. In the other mode, your brain is on autopilot and you should follow the rules to a T. People who haven't had enough experience driving don't really fit into these categories yet.

        The laws are there to stop people from driving recklessly on autopilot, and indeed,

      • If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit [...] you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)

        The posted limit is just a money-making threshold, it has nothing to do with control of the vehicle.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:38PM (#29913173) Homepage Journal

      So, perhaps this gene is more of a "delusion of competence [sfgate.com]" gene?

      FTFY

      • by homer_ca (144738)

        You could make a grid for this. For purposes of driving, I'll assume clumsy and incompetent are interchangeable.

        Clumsy and they know it | Clumsy and they don't know it
        Competent and they know it | Competent and they don't know it

    • That sound more like making excuses for your bad driving. Part of you're driving ability isn't just your own control of the car. But how to interact with other drivers. Speeding doing illegal turns etc... Puts the other driver in a state that they don't know what your are doing. So they don't know thus more chance you will get in an accident. For example tailgaters, when you are tailgating someone you don't know what they are going to do. Will they shift lanes without looking hitting the other car (as t

    • Make an illegal turn on a blind corner and you might find yourself in a lot more accidents caused by 'another driver's lack of control'.

      I'm not disagreeing with your notion that there are better drivers than others. And that these drivers are safer at high speeds than low speeds but something like making a uturn where it is illegal is annoying because as a conscientious driver I like to maximize my energy checking spots where people should be coming from not some cowboy who just made an illegal u-turn when

    • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:58PM (#29913439)

      A good driver avoids most accidents even if they are caused by another driver's lack of control. I can't tell you how many times I've anticipated a dumbass move by some driver, pedestrian, or cyclist and preempted a collision.

      You talk about "superior control" over the vehicle as if that's the hard part. That hard part is all the other people on the road. A good driver doesn't collide with things, period.

    • They might not get into accidents but their driving might cause other drivers to get into them by trying to avoid these idiots. On a related issue, a friend was always getting hit from behind. When someone was tailgating him, he would hit the brakes, HARD! After several tail end accidents, his insurance company came down on him for causing the accident even though legally he wasn't liable. Needless to say, he stopped that nonsense.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:05PM (#29913535)

      Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

      So, perhaps this gene is more of a "disrespect for authority" gene?

      Well, I'm not certain that this study is actually testing driving ability... Seems more to be about their memory than their ability to drive...

      But, regardless of how well you handle a vehicle, if you can't follow the speed limits and whatnot - you are a bad driver.

      The speed limits, turn restrictions, signage, whatever is all there for a reason. It's to create a safe and predictable driving environment for everyone. Generally speaking, you aren't the only person on the road. A speed limit of 30 mph isn't there to make it take longer for you to get to work - it's there to ensure that everyone is traveling at roughly 30 mph. Which makes it possible, for example, to enter and exit the flow of traffic from parking lots relatively easily.

      Sure, you may be able to handle your vehicle well... But if you're speeding up the road at 60 mph, in a 30 mph zone, somebody else may very well try to pull out in front of you and cause an accident.

      Surprises cause accidents. Traffic laws and signage are there to reduce surprises. If you cannot follow the laws and signage, you are creating surprises. You may be able to deal with the surprises, or you may not - but that isn't the big problem. The big problem is how all the other drivers are going to deal with your surprises.

      • by jhfry (829244)

        That was the BEST argument against what I said yet. The laws create predictability and reduce surprises, and I agree 100%.

        I certainly wasn't suggesting that anarchy on the roads was a good thing. But I have yet to meet a driver who didn't disobey a traffic law occasionally. And my point was not to suggest that breaking laws makes for a good driver, I was simply suggesting that using a persons morals, ethics, and conformity to the laws is no way to judge their ability to drive safely.

        The way I see it, I w

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers.

      That's funny. They sound just like the drivers I know who always get into accidents.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      One of those fantastic drivers was doing 60mph in a school zone and splattered a 6 year old all over the pavement, His family was on tv talking about how he did not have any tickets.

      Honestly if you speed in residential zones you are a complete fucking idiot and people need to smack you because of it.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:16PM (#29912811)

    Wouldn't surprise me if this does turn out to be true and not just a statistical anomaly then insurance companies will probably ask for a genetic test if they can get away with it and raise the premium if you have this genetic marker.

    • And how would that be "screwing" you? Seems to me that it would be considering a factor that has a correlation, if not an effect, upon an outcome. That's pretty much the basis of actuarial science.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Compholio (770966)

        And how would that be "screwing" you? Seems to me that it would be considering a factor that has a correlation, if not an effect, upon an outcome. That's pretty much the basis of actuarial science.

        Watch Gattaca and get back with us. I would argue that a responsible society would provide extra help to such people, rather than punishing them for something that they have no control over.

    • Different take (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#29914229)

      Officer, it was not my bad driving, but my genes.

      If you write me a ticket, I will sue under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:16PM (#29912823) Homepage Journal
    I could see this as true, but not for the obvious reasons. Likely, people with this "particular gene" come from the same indirect family tree. This family can have learned behavior they pass on to their offspring of "not paying attention".
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      That theory's really going to throw a wrench into their studies of brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

  • by Stradivarius (7490) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#29912835)

    We know that other tasks involving acquired skills are influenced by natural ability. Intelligence is partly inherited, athletic ability is partly inherited, etc. It should come as no surprise that a task requiring some cognitive skill (paying attention to the right things) and physical skill (good steering, etc) is also influenced by genetics.

    Starting off with a poor hand genetically just means you have to work harder. Some athletes have to work harder than others to get peak performance. Some students have to work harder than others to ace their exams. And some drivers need to work harder than others to drive well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      Perhaps not surprising, but the news is not that they've discovered the fact that traits are inherited through genetic markers. Good ol' Chuck Darwin had that one figured a while back.

      The news is that they've possibly identified one of the specific markers, and found a potential correlation between that and a specific subset of skills.

      In addition to the "blue eyes" and "red hair" gene, we may have found the "hold my beer and watch this" gene.

    • We know that other tasks involving acquired skills are influenced by natural ability. Intelligence is partly inherited, athletic ability is partly inherited, etc. It should come as no surprise that a task requiring some cognitive skill (paying attention to the right things) and physical skill (good steering, etc) is also influenced by genetics.

      Good thing there's no cultural correlation with genetic similarities, eh?

      There are huge cultural differences in how people drive. In Italy, people seem to have a pass

  • Much like any activity, this "deficiency" can be curbed through training/practice.

    Until we're able to manipulate genes in humans, as opposed to just lab rats, all this "XYZ has been linked to gene ABC" is pretty irrelevant.
    • Really? You can alter how your brain and body react to various proteins just by practice?

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      If scientists can demonstrate how this happens, there may be changes to the way training is done to better curb this deficiency.

      For example, if the deficiency is in attentiveness, then people with that genetic marker may need some extra training in defensive driving and awareness. Training that, while useful for all drivers, is especially useful for the genetically predisposed group.

      This is the first step - science has identified a possible problem. Now science should probably check to make sure it's not

    • by debrain (29228)

      Until we're able to manipulate genes in humans, as opposed to just lab rats, all this "XYZ has been linked to gene ABC" is pretty irrelevant.

      Not if you're an insurer.

  • by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:19PM (#29912869)
    If "genetic defect" means having a cell phone grown onto your ear at birth, then yes, I absolutely agree.
  • by citking (551907) <jayNO@SPAMcitking.net> on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:23PM (#29912935) Homepage

    Obviously driving a car, truck, golf cart, etc. requires fine and gross motor skills. So if this gene is present does it affect only driving skills or other areas where fine and gross motor skills come into play? I'd like to see, for instance, if the 30% or so of people with this gene can't play video games on modern systems because they forget what the buttons do or just can't get the jumps, dives, runs, etc. down. It might also be interesting to see if neurosurgeons, sculptors, or sports players have this gene or not.

  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:24PM (#29912949)

    Yeah, I went there.

  • Sample size issue? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Serician (1296775) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:28PM (#29913019)
    Did any one catch the sample size?

    "The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it."

    Ummm... Sounds like interesting research, but until your sample size increases a bit, you don't got nothing.
    • by esme (17526) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @03:12PM (#29914563) Homepage

      I suppose you've looked over their statistics, then? Or maybe you're just completely ignorant of behavioral sciences where a significantly larger sample size usually indicates poor design, lack of understanding of statistics, or a fishing expedition?

      Many kinds of experiments require large sample sizes, either because of small effects or large amounts of variance in the population being studied. But not everything needs a large sample. And using a large sample where a small one will do is just wasteful.

  • A study found people with Rh-neg blood and toxoplasmosis had more accidents. Here's more info:
    http://theshermanfoundation.blogspot.com/2009/06/toxoplasma-parasite-may-cause-humans-to.html [blogspot.com]

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:34PM (#29913119) Homepage Journal
    I live in an area with an astonishing number of epically bad drivers. I figured the epically bad drivers were (unfortunately) surviving long enough to have children, who themselves grew up to be epically bad drivers. A genetic component to epically bad driving doesn't surprise me in the least.
  • by Jordan ez (1270898) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:40PM (#29913197)
    Man, and I thought the main cause for concern with the upcoming revolution in genetic testing was losing my health insurance.
  • ...if we could just start making a list of all the people who *didn't* come here to make the XX/XY joke.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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